I’ve been reading about the financial crisis and happily discovered it’s possible to understand the main outlines if one reads enough. One underlying factor hasn’t been mentioned and that is the interaction of the individual to the collective. We talk about investor relations to the market, or vice versa, but that puts it in terms of profit and loss. When you retain the same equation but re-label the participants as the individual and the collective, a picture emerges that helps us understand the need for action on the financial package. We don’t exist in a vacuum, our actions affect others, just as we are affected by the actions of many we don’t know. The point is that to preserve the individual there are times when the whole, the collective, has to come first, and that seems to be what many are having difficulty grasping. Self interest must cede to the collective good or else we all perish. Watching the U.S. House of Representatives vote on the financial package, which those who are against insist is a bailout*, I wonder if those who voted no forgot that there are times when self interest must yield to the public good. The stock market plunge right after does show how all of us bear the consequences of the decisions of a few—Not to quote Scarlet O Hara, but tomorrow is another day—assuming a few learn what they need to learn rather quickly.
*The $700 b package is not money given outright. It is mainly to buy problematic securities and mortgages, which have a still to be determined value, which will be resold in some way, and some of which, in the arcane world of finances, can and do earn interest.